That’s what they say about imitation and me too products: the sincerest form of flattery.

I’m sure it rankles with the pioneers in a category when the giant comes in second with the massive resources and does it cheaper, better and more effectively. There has long between tension between the western markets who have laws in place to protect certain forms of imitation, copying and plagiarism, and the eastern markets where copying is considered normal. ‘Oh, we’re not copying your product, we’re improving it.’

I’ve noticed this tactic become much more prevalent with the German supermarket giants Lidl and Aldi, or Lidly Aldi as they’re sometimes rather hilariously known in Irish musical wag circles. They take a well known product and either call it exactly the same name, like Fruit & Fibre cereal of Kellogg’s fame, or make a very small adjustment so that you’re in no doubt as to what they’re ripping off, then sell it for about half the price of the branded version.

There are lots of examples of these marginally renamed products, but the one that sticks in my mind is the branded Angel’s Delight, that lovely fluffy dessert from our childhood, renamed in a German stylee as Heavenly Delight, with packaging so redolent of the pioneer product you wonder how on earth they get away with it.

What always strikes me as amusing though is that Lidl and Aldi are themselves, for me, completely interchangeable. I can never remember which one is which, which one I’m in when I’m in it and whose product is whose. It’s like the scene from Love Actually where the Bill Nighy character is interviewed by Ant & Dec, and replies to them as ‘Ant or Dec.’

They don’t really imitate each other. They are practically the same. Watch the song in the link above and you’ll empathise.

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